Consuming a healthy diet was associated with reduced risk for type 2 diabetes among women in all racial and ethnic groups but conferred an even greater benefit for Asian, Hispanic, and black women, according to a new study by researchers at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

“This study suggests that a healthy overall diet can play a vital role in preventing type 2 diabetes, particularly in minority women who have elevated risks of the disease. As the incidence of type 2 diabetes continues to increase at an alarming rate worldwide, these findings can have global importance for what may be the largest public health threat of this century,” said lead author Jinnie Rhee, who conducted the research as a doctoral student in the Departments of Epidemiology and Nutrition at Harvard Chan and is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the Division of Nephrology at Stanford University School of Medicine.

It’s estimated that about 29.1 million people in the U.S. and 47 million around the world have diabetes. The World Health Organization projects that diabetes will be the seventh leading cause of death in 2030. The disease, which is often related to excess body weight and physical inactivity, is more common in African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, and Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders, and the aged.

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